There are many similarities between drug addiction and eating disorders. Drug addiction is known to be a brain disease.
When a substance is abused to the point of addiction, one’s brain has rewired itself to rely on the foreign substance for proper functioning. Depending on the substance, the drugs and/or alcohol will trick one’s brain, either by mimicking the pleasure chemical naturally found in the brain, or by actually tricking the brain into creating an excess of the pleasure chemical. An individual will continuously seek the excess of the pleasure chemical in his or her brain. In order to accommodate this craving, he or she will engage in habitual substance abuse seeking behaviors regardless of the consequences; this is known to be addiction.
For many years, eating disorders were said to be environmentally induced. New research has come out stating that there is a direct correlation between one’s brain function and his or her eating disorder. It is evident that with the presence of eating disorders, one’s brain circuits seem to have gone somewhat off kilter. That said, there are definite environmental influences that can encourage or dissuade an individual from going down the path of one suffering from an eating disorder, but not enough influence to erase or sway one down the path completely.
There is a significant overlap between drug addiction and eating disorders. It has been noted that nearly fifty percent of individuals suffering from eating disorders also abuse drugs and/or alcohol.
The treatment for both drug and/or alcohol addiction and eating disorders is quite similar. They are lifelong treatments that involve the shifting of one’s behaviors and choices. With substance addiction, an individual will, first, need to rewire his or her brain to learn to function with wholly without the present of the foreign substance. This is accomplished by fully ridding oneself from the abused substance and going through detox. With eating disorders, an individual will, first, need to rewire his or her brain to function fully with the proper amount of caloric intake. This is accomplished through adjusting one’s eating habits. Eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia for example, essentially starve one’s brain, as the proper amount of nutrients is not provided.
In both diagnoses, part of recovery is to have an ample support network. This will help an individual to stay accountable.
It will also provide a much-needed sense of community and support through both challenges and triumphs. There are eating disorder support groups that individuals can join. Similarly, there are groups available for individuals struggling with substance abuse, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
Both drug addiction and eating disorders can cause severe long and/or short term effects on one’s physical body and one’s emotional health.
The long and short term effects that can occur from eating disorders can include, but are not limited to any combination of the following: overall deteriorating of one’s health, dehydration, malnutrition, excessive weight loss, severe dental decay, skin issues, and/or weakening of one’s bones. All of the above long and/or short term effects from eating disorders can also be applied to individuals who struggle with drug and/or alcohol addiction. Additionally, people who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol, have the propensity to suffer from high or low blood pressure, erratic breathing, immune deficiencies, paranoia, organ damage and/or psychosis.
There are many co morbidities that can occur for individuals suffering from eating disorders and for people struggling with drugs and/or alcohol addiction. Certain psychological disorders, such as depression, various mood and anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder are all common co morbid conditions for drug addicts and/or people who have eating disorders. The above indicate significant overlap of the co morbid ailments that can present themselves in an individual suffering from drug addiction and/or eating disorders.
If an individual has any desire for recovery, he or she must make the conscious choice, habitually, to do so. Treatment, whether it be for drug and/or alcohol addiction or for eating disorders can be an arduous experience. It is essential for an individual to stick with his or her treatment plan, because if drug addiction and/or eating disorders are left untreated they can lead to death. Seeking support and/or guidance from any hospital, clinic, or even a religious institution can be a good starting point for an individual suffering from drug addiction and/or eating disorders. Alternatively, there is an abundant of online support and numbers of hotlines available for anyone wishing to learn more about drug addiction and/or eating disorders.